This Sunday some fifteen hundred eager runners will line up in ArcelorMittal Dofasco Park in Stoney Creek, Ont. for the start of the Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon.
Many of them will have chosen the race specifically in hopes of setting new personal bests or better still, achieving an elusive BQ, a Boston [Marathon] Qualifying time.
But why Hamilton of all places?
The Road2Hope Hamilton course has proven itself as one of the fastest around. After 20K of gently rolling hills along and atop the pastoral Niagara Escarpment, runners begin their descent of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and enjoy almost 10K of significant and speed-enhancing downhill. The final 10K are then perfectly flat and run out-and-back along the Waterfront Trail, which includes a number of cheer stations and ample crowd support.
Better still, the early November race often features favourable conditions that are cool, crisp and dry–ideal for fast running. Occasionally, a northern tailwind has even provided added aid to faster times.
As advertised and acclaimed, Hamilton is indeed Canada’s fastest Boston Qualifier course. In 2015, 20 per cent of participants earned their BQs in Hamilton. In the three years prior it was even higher at 25, 26 and 31 per cent, making it among the ten fastest races in all North America. It was #3 overall in 2012!
But Road2Hope is more than a just marathon. It offers an equally fast–PB enhancing–half marathon that also takes advantage of the same downhill section used in the marathon. On Saturday, there are 5K and 10K races as well as a 1K kid’s race. The event raises money for 26 local charities. The race expo is conveniently located in Hamilton’s Confederation Park which is the finish for all races and provides plenty of parking.